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Story Publication logo September 30, 2022

Brazil: A New Gold Rush Ravages the Yanomami Territory (French)

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gold mining in Brazil
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In the Brazilian Amazon, at the Venezuelan Border, the Yanomami people are facing a ruthless...

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This story excerpt was translated from French. To read the original story in full, visit Mediapart. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. Our RJF website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.


In the state of Roraima, forty years after the first gold rush, illegal gold miners are back en masse in Yanomami territory, favored since the arrival in power of Jair Bolsonaro. On the eve of the presidential election, the gold miners are trying to push their advantage.

Waikas (Brazil) - Seen from the sky, long yellowish spots tear the green coat of the Amazonian forest. Not far from the border with Venezuela, in the north of the Yanomami territory, gold panning routes follow one another along the Uraricoera river.

The pilot flies low but cannot get too close. He fears the threats as much as the numerous planes chartered by the gold miners, which skim the canopy to avoid radar. On the ground, the village of Waikas is in the front line. Here live the Yek'wana, one of the eight peoples present on this territory the size of Portugal.


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Aerial view of an illegal gold mining operation in Waikas, Brazil, near the Venezuelan border, in Yanomami territory, in August 2022. Image by Victor Raison/Mediapart.

On the banks of the Uraricoera River, in Brazil, in August 2022, the departure point, by boat, of workers to illegal gold mining. Image by Victor Raison/Mediapart.

An illegal gold mining operation along the Uraricoera River, near the Waikas community, in Brazil, in September 2022. Image by Victor Raison/Mediapart.

Ehuana Yanomami, one of the few female leaders, denounces the ordeal imposed on women by gold miners. Image by Victor Raison/Mediapart. Brazil, 2022.